VLA antenna, Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, Magdalena, NM, May 30, 2018

VLA antenna, Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, Magdalena, NM, May 30, 2018
VLA antenna, Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, Magdalena, NM, May 30, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chert Glades, Part 2 of the Start of Our Trip - Tues., July 11, 2018

(Continued from Part 1...)
Susan and I had already signed in for our walk in Joplin, Missouri. As we drove from the check-in point to our hotel, we discussed whether it would be better to walk in the evening or the next morning. If we walked in the evening, we could head north earlier in the morning. And that's what we did. However, we did miss out on the Visitor Center.

Our walk started at the Wildcat Glades Conservation Park just down the freeway from our motel. Because my knee is still healing, we did a 6k walk (3.7 miles) instead of our usual 10k. That's good because we got a late start and we'd lose daylight by the end of the walk.

Wildcat Glades is a very unique natural area. It protects some of the only remaining chert beds in the world. Our walk information did not include any information on the chert beds, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. My, oh, my, what a special spot! Here's what Wikipedia taught me:
"Chert glades are a habitat which only exists in [the] southern Missouri area. They are described as a near desert-like environment. This is due to the hard chert bedrock underneath the soil, which has eroded and been exposed to the surface. Plants characteristic of arid areas, including cacti, grow here. Other plants had to adapt to the environment, resulting in some species having stunted growth."
The geologic area is called the Grand Falls Formation. The chert beds are over six feet thick here. Chert glades are only found along Shoal Creek and its tributaries in Joplin, Missouri (a two-square-mile area).

Picnic area in a chert glade
Our Volksmarch followed a short portion of the trails in the park. It did not go up on the ridge or through Mother Nature's Gap. We started at a parking lot and walked a short distance on the trail before crossing a single-lane bridge over Shoal Creek and then walking along a road to Grand Falls, Missouri's largest continuously running waterfall at 12' tall and 163' wide.

Shoal Creek
Susan enjoying the view at Shoal Creek
The I-35 bridge

Shoal Creek as seen from the low-water bridge

We felt like we were way out in the country, even though Grand Falls was only about 1-1/2 miles from I-35. Susan and I thought it would have been a nicer walk if we didn't have to walk on the narrow road most of the way. 

Gorgeous daylilies in a yard
It was quite humid and I kept trying to keep sweat, laced with mosquito repellent, from running in my eyes. The sleeve of my T-shirt had to do because I forgot to bring a towel. 

Even though the road followed Shoal Creek, we rarely saw it, so when we came to the parking area for Grand Falls, it was a pleasant surprise. The chert beds are quite obvious here. 

If you look closely at the top center of the photo below, you will see two people sitting in lawn chairs. You can see what erosion has done over the years.

Grand Falls is quite the local cooling off spot. People were hanging out in the water and others were in the water fishing.

Grand Falls
There is a small dam on top of and to
the side of the falls.
Grand Falls
Grand Falls is one of the largest falls in Missouri
A nice swimming hole below the falls

Fishing at the falls
Proof I made it
It was getting late so we had to high-tail it back to the car. The road we were walking on did not have streetlights and it was dusk. Cars drove pretty cautiously, for the most part.

We are definitely out in the country here!
This is a horse farm.
I was able to capture one last shot of Shoal Creek from the low-water crossing bridge. A car was waiting for me to get across so I had to hurry and take the photo.

The very last portion of the trail back through the chert glades was pretty dark when we returned. But we were able to see enough and the path was paved, so no rocks or roots under our feet. 

It was a pleasant walk and I'd like to come back sometime and do the 10k walk. I wonder if it goes on more of the trails in the park. Thank you to the Dogwood Trailblazers Club for hosting this walk! We appreciate your hard work.

We were tired and made a beeline back to our motel. We had left San Antonio at 6:10 a.m. and got back to our rooms about 9:30 p.m. Time to get some rest!

Tomorrow is a driving day to Eagan, Minnesota. Dinner tomorrow will be with my friends, Dave and Jyl Navarro. They live in Mankato Lake and plan to drive 45 minutes to meet us. That will be a nice visit.

It's hard to believe how far we've traveled in today. Over and out. 

Downpour Leads to Windshield Wiper Chaos - Monday, July 9, 2018, Part 1

Monday was the day to prepare for my next trip with Susan Medlin (on Tuesday!). I had a doctor's appointment and two stops to make at grocery stores. We planned to take my car because she had been taking hers on most of our trips together lately. I had been to Costco for two new tires the week before and got an oil change at my mechanic as well. 

I also wanted to get a physical to make sure I was in good health. My previous doctor retired over a year ago and it was finally time to find a new one. We have UHC health insurance. They have a great website where you can find a doctor and see reviews. That's how I found my previous doctor, who retired after I saw him twice. Sigh.

Anyway, I found a doctor on the website and went to see her on Monday. I was a new patient, so there was lots of paperwork to fill out. While I was in the examining room, I heard massive amounts of rain hitting the building. I love my new doctor, by the way. I'm pretty healthy, so I only need to get my lab work and bone density scan done when I return from the trip.

After the appointment, the street outside the doctor's office had rivers of water running along both curbs. Carefully, I drove through the deeper spots and avoided the outer lanes where all the water was flowing. The downpour was mostly over and I only had to deal with light rain. However, I noticed my windshield wipers were leaving big streaks across my windshield. It had been a while since I had replaced them.

After a trip to Walmart and Costco, I pulled in to Pep Boys to find the right windshield wipers. The guy behind the counter looked up my Escape on the computer and picked out the correct windshield wipers for my car. Pep Boys has free windshield wiper installation, so I sat in my car while the technician put the new ones on. I noticed as I was sitting there, that a small plastic piece broke off one of the new windshield wipers.

I waited to see if he would confess to breaking it. He finished with that wiper and got ready to put in the other one. I got out of the car and said, "What is that small piece of plastic on my hood?" He acted like he hadn't seen it at all, but looked a little sheepish when I asked him. He said it was one of the tabs that hold it in that had broken off. I told him I would need a new windshield wiper because we were going to Minnesota and North Dakota and I didn't want my windshield wiper coming off in a big rainstorm.

He gave me the packaging and the broken wiper. I took it back in the store and they traded it for a new one. 

After he installed both wipers, he asked me to test them. I sprayed the windows with washer fluid and turned on the wipers. The wipers did not get the water off the windshield in the line of sight for the driver or the passenger. The rest of the windshield was free of water, just not the areas where we needed to see! I told him that wouldn't work. He said to take them in and get another kind.

Someone else helped me. She asked me if I had a 4- or 6-cylinder engine. I don't know why that made a difference. Anyway, I asked her if they had Bosch wipers that fit my Escape because that's what I had on it before. She found the right size wipers and I paid the price difference. 

The technician put on the new wipers with no problems. When I tested those wipers, they worked perfectly. 

I must say, Pep Boys handled the issues well and there were no problems switching wiper blades out. They have always done a good job for me there, but I think the first guy who helped me just didn't pick out the right wipers.

On Tuesday morning, I was at Susan's house to pick her up at 6:10 a.m. We wanted to get out of San Antonio before rush hour. Bob met us at Costco near his work to loan me a hotspot for me to connect to the computer when I travel. That way I can work on my blog! Thanks, Bob, for doing that. I know you had a busy morning.

And off we went. Our route was north on I-35 to Buda, Texas, where we got on the 45 Toll Road to the 130 Toll Road around Austin. The speed limit is 80 on the toll road and we avoided the Austin rush-hour traffic. We reconnected with I-35 at Georgetown. 

We saw many speed traps and people getting pulled over on I-35 north of Georgetown all the way up to where I-35 split into East and West (south of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex). Go the speed limit through there because Smokeys were everywhere. 10-4, good buddy.

Rest areas have interesting information about the local area. The one we stopped at near Ft. Hood had info on the Chisholm Trail, Warriors and Warbler, I-35, and the Jarrell Tornado in May 1997. The historical markers are below if you're interested.
About birds at Ft. Hood
The Jarrell Tornado, May 27, 1997
History and significance of interstate 35
The Chisholm Trail
Lunch was at What-A-Burger and a few hours later we had Blizzards at Dairy Queen. We arrived in Joplin, Missouri, about 5:30 p.m., checked into our hotel, and had dinner at Cracker Barrel.

We decided to do our Volksmarch this evening at Wildcat Glades Conservation Park. That way we could get an early start on tomorrow's drive.

The temperature was 87 degrees and it was humid. 

To be continued in Part 2...